Apple's HomePod Cranks Up the Price

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1 (and 2): Apple TV getting Amazon support, watchOS 4 announced.

The next version of iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad, as well as desktop software macOS and the Apple Watch's watchOS were also updated at the firm's annual developer conference, WWDC.

On the technological side, Apple's virtual demonstration of why HomePod is a superior speaker was all about the device's ability to recognize the space it was filling.

Apple is now using machine learning more than ever before. It remains to be seen whether the HomePod's audio quality is as good as advertised, but at least among the Echo product family, sound quality is definitely a secondary feature.

Speaking at the conference earlier today, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said that the device will "reinvent home music. just like the iPod reinvented music in our pockets".

The HomePod - due to launch in December - looks like a mesh cylinder. Additionally, Siri will be able to chime in by answering follow-up questions, and offer multiple results to queries. Most of the news focused on the coming updates for its various operating systems, but CEO Tim Cook also introduced some new hardware. Apple's speaker will be launching in the U.S., U.K., and Australia in December, with additional markets to come next year. It will allow users to talk to Siri, Apple's digital assistant, while at home and costs US$349 (S$ 481) - nearly double the price of most competing products.

Alphabet Inc. followed with Google Home, a speaker introduced previous year. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year.

As if you didn't rely on Apple devices in your day-to-day life already, the Cupertino company just announced HomePod, its entry into the smart speaker arena.

Apple's Phil Schiller said the device combines a great compact speaker with a smart speaker.

But it's also possible that the HomePod could expose Siri as less capable than Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, Blaber said.

Apple says its Safari browser on the Mac will try to guard your privacy by identifying and blocking data files that track you as you move from website to website.

Apple had plenty of other announcements.

The wireless speaker features new spatial awareness technology. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

Apple said it is updating its iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch Retina display and a refresh rate the company said is twice as fast, making videos smoother and crisper. It doesn't double as a wireless security camera either as some thought it would - Apple doesn't now do its own and doesn't have a vested interest in a company that does, like Google has with Nest. By comparison, Apple shipped 51 million iPhones and 9 million iPads during the same stretch. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations. If you've been Googling flights to Reykjavik, it might suggest an article about Iceland.

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